The preponderance of evidence from the empirical literature on aid effectiveness suggests that development aid has not had a significant impact on growth in recipient countries. However, there is some evidence that aid has had positive effects when the policy environment has been conducive to growth. Regarding the relationship between aid and the main channels through which its impact on growth could flow—investment and domestic saving—the evidence is mixed, with some indication that aid has had a positive impact where adjustment efforts have been sustained.
Through the provision of both social and economic infrastructure, public investment can serve as an important catalyst for economic growth. A significant body of theoretical and empirical research underscores the positive relationship between investment in high-quality public infrastructure and economy-wide productivity.1 Against the background of a steady decline in public investment as a share of GDP in advanced economies, evidence of infrastructure bottlenecks in emerging economies, and the sluggish global economic recovery, the G-20 has called for ramping up public investment to raise long-run economic growth (G-20, 2014).2 However, the economic and social impact of public investment crucially depends on its efficiency. Despite anecdotal evidence of projects plagued by time delays, cost overruns, and inadequate maintenance, there are few robust empirical studies of the determinants of public investment efficiency.
This paper explores the link between public investment management (PIM) institutions and the efficiency of public investment for the G-20 countries. Based on the analysis from a recent IMF study, the paper finds that better PIM enhances public infrastructure quality, and pinpoints key institutional reforms needs to boost public investment efficiency (IMF 2015). These findings and recommendations are based on a comprehensive data set on investment, infrastructure and capital stocks, and two analytical innovations: (i) a new cross-country Public Investment Efficiency Index (PIE-X); and (ii) a new Public Investment Management Assessment (PIMA) which is applied to G-20 countries.
Public investment supports the delivery of key public services, connects citizens and firms to economic opportunities, and can serve as an important catalyst for economic growth. After three decades of decline, public investment has begun to recover as a share of GDP in emerging markets (EMs) and low income developing countries (LIDCs), but remains at historic lows in advanced economies (AEs). The increase in public investment in EMs and LIDCs has led to some convergence between richer and poorer countries in the quality of and access to social infrastructure (e.g., schools and hospitals), and, to a lesser extent, economic infrastructure (e.g., roads and electricity).
However, the economic and social impact of public investment critically depends on its efficiency. Comparing the value of public capital (input) and measures of infrastructure coverage and quality (output) across countries reveals average inefficiencies in public investment processes of around 30 percent. The economic dividends from closing this efficiency gap are substantial: the most efficient public investors get twice the growth “bang” for their public investment “buck” than the least efficient.
Karim Barhoumi, Ha Vu, Shirin Nikaein Towfighian, and Mr. Rodolfo Maino
There is significant room to improve public investment efficiency in
sub-Saharan Africa. Investment in sub-Saharan African countries is lagging vis-à-vis peers such as emerging and developing Asia as well as Latin America and the Caribbean, and the region’s infrastructure is perceived as being of relatively low quality. Improving the efficiency of sizable investment programs in the region could contribute to more solid economic growth and help achieve desired social priorities and development goals.
Results point to some variability in public investment efficiency within the region. Comparing efficiency scores across country groups suggests that investment efficiency in sub-Saharan African oil exporters tends to be lower than in sub-Saharan African non-resource-intensive countries. Additionally, countries in East African Community (EAC) perform better than those in Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) and West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU).
Stronger institutions could foster more efficient public investment. The regression results in this paper show a positive correlation between public investment efficiency and the quality of institutions, suggesting that devel-oping stronger institutions in sub-Saharan Africa could lead to a significant improvement in investment efficiency. This is particularly relevant for coun-tries with weak institutional quality, where governments may use capital spending as a vehicle for rent-seeking, leading to inefficient spending. Given the current drive for scaling up investment in sub-Saharan Africa, the task of improving institutions quickly should become a priority.
"Public Investment Management Assessments (PIMAs) are the IMF‘s key tool for assessing infrastructure governance over the full investment cycle and supporting economic institution building in this area. The PIMA framework was first introduced in the 2015 Board Paper on “Making Public Investment More Efficient,” as part of the IMF’s Infrastructure Policy Support Initiative (IPSI). A key motivation for its development has been that strong infrastructure governance is critical for public investment to spur economic growth. PIMAs offer rigorous assessment of infrastructure governance, that is, the key public investment management (PIM) institutions and processes of a country.
On the basis of the PIMAs conducted to date, this paper summarizes the lessons learned and updates the assessment framework itself. PIMAs summarize the strengths and weaknesses of country public investment processes, and set out a prioritized and sequenced reform action plan. The PIMA framework has been well-received by member countries, with over 30 PIMAs conducted to date (mainly in emerging markets (EMs) and low income developing countries (LIDCs), and a pipeline of new requests in place; eight PIMAs have been or are about to be published. The PIMAs conducted show that there is much room for strengthening PIM, with weaknesses spread across the investment cycle. The results and recommendations of several PIMAs have been used in IMF lending, surveillance, and capacity development (CD) work, and have improved support and coordination among CD providers.
While leaving the structure of the 2015 framework unchanged, the revised PIMA framework highlights some critical governance aspects more prominently. In particular, it brings out more fully some key aspects of maintenance, procurement, independent review of projects, and the enabling environment (e.g., adequacy of the legal framework, information systems, and staff capacity). Yet, the revised PIMA retains the key features of the 2015 framework, including the three-phase structure (planning, allocation, and implementation) with five institutions assigned to each phase, three dimensions under each institution, and three possible scores under each dimension (i.e., not/partially/fully met). The revision has benefitted from extensive stakeholder feedback, including from IMF teams, World Bank staff, and country authorities."